Cycling provides phenomenal cardiovascular exercise, muscular endurance, and a whole lot of sweat. Losing sweat can lead to dehydration and muscle cramping, which will undeniably affect your performance on long rides. Cyclists need hydration drinks to replenish the vital minerals and salts expelled with sweat.
But what kind of hydration drink do cyclists need? There are so many on the market, so we’ll help clear the air with information about hydration drinks in this article. Don’t forget: for peak performance on your ride, you need to consider your diet and nutrition, cross-train with some strengthening, and always carve out time for recovery.
Now, let’s dive into the hydration drinks you want in your water bottle for your next long ride, hill climb, or stationary bike session.
Table of Contents
Why Is Hydration Important?
At the most basic level, we need to stay hydrated to function as living human beings. Drinking enough water helps to regulate body temperature, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep the internal systems working properly. Hydration also lubricates the joints, something that athletes need to consider.
For cyclists and other athletes, maintaining hydration addresses an additional key fact: You need to replenish what you lose when you sweat.
Here’s a fun fact you can announce at your next dinner party: The average adult human body is 55%–60% water. Maintaining this percentage is essential for preventing dehydration.
You’ve likely felt dehydrated before. Symptoms include physical weakness and mental fatigue, headaches or dizziness, dark urine, and the tell-tale sign of being extremely thirsty.
Becoming dehydrated can simply happen from not drinking enough water. But during vigorous exercise, dehydration likely occurs because you’re losing sweat. When you sweat, you expel essential minerals and salts like sodium, potassium, and magnesium (electrolytes). Without replenishing these, you risk enduring muscle cramps and other symptoms of dehydration.
Hydration & Cycling
When it comes to drinks designed for cycling, there are two different drinks you need to know about: carbohydrate drinks and electrolyte drinks.
Cyclists consume carbohydrate drinks to replace glycogen stores used during exercise and help fuel the muscles for maximum endurance. These are the energy drinks and sports drinks available. Whereas electrolyte drinks replenish vital minerals and salts lost through sweat.
If you plan on riding 60–90 minutes or longer, you’ll likely be wiping some sweat off your skin. Sweating is your body’s cooling system, so drinking before, during, and after you exert yourself through exercise is vital.
But during an intense ride, plain water doesn’t have the component to replace what you’re sweating out. That’s why cyclists rely on hydration drinks.
The Best Drinks for Hydration
As mentioned above, when it comes to replenishing lost minerals and salts, you’re looking for an electrolyte hydration drink. Often, they come in tablet form that you can toss into a water bottle. Let’s look at the most popular hydration drinks on the market.
Everyone’s sweat rates and sweat contents vary, and this company provides a free fuel and hydration plan tailored to your needs. (And we know how crucial it is to have a personalized program for your fitness goals.) After a quick online quiz, they’ll offer you hydration suggestions and which of their products best suit your training plan. They sell electrolyte powders, tablets, gels, and more.
Nuun Hydration Tablets
These effervescent electrolyte tablets are top-rated among cyclists and other athletes alike. They have various hydration tablets available, low-calorie and formulated with all the essential electrolytes. After sampling several flavours of Nuun, our favourite is still the classic lemon-lime.
Perhaps not what you expected to see, but coconut water is a good option for electrolyte replenishment. It naturally contains electrolytes, including potassium, sodium, and magnesium — precisely what you need to replace during a tough ride.
When Should I Consume a Hydration Drink?
Most of the time, plain water will do the trick to increase hydration. But there are certain activities and times when a manufactured hydration drink will do a better job.
- Hot days when you break a sweat just stepping out the door
- Rides when you exert your cardiovascular system
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Bike rides over 60 minutes
- Vigorous exercising
All other times: drink water!
What Did We Learn?
Hydration is essential for overall health, especially when cardiovascular exercise becomes part of your workout routine. If you break a sweat during your ride, you need to replenish your electrolytes with a quality hydration drink.
We have some avid cyclists at EverFlex Premium Personal Training who have worked with cyclists to help them improve performance. Get in touch with us if you want to learn more about how we can help you surpass your cycling and fitness goals.